Voice Journal

Part of the "Voice Project" for Bowling Green State University's College Student Personnel Program class CSP 6020: Student Development Theory.

Bye Megan!

This entry will serve as my final post for the voice journal project for the semester.  In my initial entry I wrote that I viewed the assignment “as a personal challenge to step out of my comfort zone and speak for a fictional person.”  I was afraid that I would not be able to accurately represent all the qualities that combined to form Megan’s young identity.  Additionally, my goals were to overcome any biases that I may have had and to try to apply the knowledge that I was learning this summer to further understand Megan’s developmental process.  I feel that I was able to accomplish these goals.

I approached the experience from many different angles.  I wrote about current events that I read about, information gained through interviews, gathered digital media, and applied the academic knowledge from the 6010 and 6020 courses that I was learning.  I believe this combination allowed me to see Megan from many perspectives.  To rely purely on academic information would have created an impersonal understanding of Megan’s development, but without it, I believe my posts would have been biased and naïve.  This diversity of sources created a balance.

I was also pleased with how I addressed my biases and multiple aspects of Megan’s development.  I tried to be objective and approach topics from a perspective that I felt would closely mirror Megan’s and reflect the information that I had been reading.  Even when my personal biases may have come through, I felt that it was appropriately noted.  I think that recognizing these biases is an important part of this assignment.  Addressing all aspects of Megan’s development may have been an area where I could have potentially improved.  The different theories provided a decent roadmap to what areas of Megan I should address, but I still feel as if there was more to write.  This may have been a function of the shortened semester, and I wish that we had more time to get to know our voices.

Over all, I felt that I was able to take a lot out of the assignment.  I enjoyed “getting to know” Megan and it was interesting to have an outlet to apply what we were learning in the classroom in a less formal way.  I can see myself following a similar thought process when working with real students.  At the very least, the voice journal assignment put the theories and application of the theories in perspective.  Every student has multiple developmental influences.  They aren’t just a female, or a Christian, or a student with a disability.  They are a combination of all three, and all of their characteristics combine to form a unique identity.  It is essential as professionals that we work to help these students complete their whole developmental picture.  

20th Anniversary of the ADA

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), a key piece of legislation that has helped people with disabilities gain an equal foothold in our society.  Obviously this piece of legislation is especially relevant to my voice.  The ADA was written to establish equality in facility access, housing, transportation, employment, health care, recreational venues, and leadership.  As attorney Paul Hanlon said, “”With the ADA, we began to look at who actually made up the public and who was being excluded because of this definition of ‘typical’ — not only people with disabilities, but older adults, women, children. The concept of universal design — usable by anyone — was born. The ordinary became routinely accessible.” (Calabro, 2010).

However, a question still remains of whether or not the ADA remains sufficient.  A survey conducted by HealthDay News contests that it may not be. Some key findings from the survey as presented by MSN News (Robitaille, 2010):

  • 19 percent of people with disabilities said they did not get the medical care they needed in the past year, with lack of insurance coverage cited as the top reason.
  • 21 percent of disabled working-age Americans had a job in the past year, versus 59 percent for those without disabilities.
  • 17 percent of people with disabilities have not graduated from high school, compared to 22 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 1986 — the first year the survey was taken.
  • 48 percent of people with disabilities eat out at a restaurant twice a month, compared to 75 percent of those without disabilities.
  • 34 percent of disabled people say inadequate transportation is a problem, compared to 16 percent of those without disabilities, a gap that has widened 5 percentage points since 1986.

The last 20 years has shown us that the ADA was instrumental in starting the push for equality for those with disabilities.  However, it is also clear that this legislation may be either outdated or no longer sufficient for society today.  New laws are needed to benefit people with disabilities like Megan.

References

Calabro, T. (2010, July 21). Disabilities law hits 20 years of making a community open to all. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 26, 2010, from http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10202/1074040-114.stm

Robitaille, S. (2010, July 23). Americans with disabilities act reaches 20th anniversary. MSN Health & Fitness. Retrieved July 26, 2010, from http://health.msn.com/health-topics/caregiving/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100261512



Self-Authorship

Initially when we began to discuss Baxter Magolda’s Theory of Self-Authorship in class, I thought that Megan would be in the earliest developmental stage of the model.  Baxter Magolda identified values exploration, making sense of information about the world gained previously, determining one’s life path, and then taking steps on that path as developmental tasks often associated with people around Megan’s age.  I realized, however, that I wasn’t giving Megan enough credit.  While her transition will not be easy, and I have already identified some of the issues I believe she may struggle with, she has already begun to address some of the major questions that are intertwined with Baxter Magolda’s theory.  How do I know?  Who am I? How do I construct relationships with others?  These prompts are all things that I have previously contemplated and think that Megan will have addressed in her transition into college.  Because of this, I feel that Megan would most closely align with Phase 2 of the theory, Crossroads (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn, 2010).

Megan is working to building a foundation for herself with positive relationships that will allow her to establish her own identity and begin securing commitments.  She is unhappy with how others currently see her.  She has always had her disability, but wants people to see beyond that.  She wants to establish her own identity while establishing a life plan.  Typically people move from the Crossroads phase with a new, more defined sense of direction and improved self-confidence, which is what I believe that Megan is ultimately working towards at this point in her life (Evans et al., 2010).

Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nash’s Narratives

Today in class we talked about spirituality and I thought it would be an interesting study to examine where Megan might fall within Nash’s Religio-Spirtual Narratives.  An important distinction we made in class today is the difference between being spiritual and being religious.  Religion is the beliefs and practices of a collective group of people, where as spirituality is the human attempt to make sense of the self in connection with God or an external force (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn, 2010).  I found it interesting that you can be spiritual and not religious, vice-versa, or neither; it was a concept I had never really considered before.  I thought about how Megan might approach her own spirituality and religion.  Her family is Christian and Megan was raised with that faith as a heavy influence on her life.  My initial feelings were that Megan might be struggling with her religion and spirituality as she processes her transition into college life.  I have previously written about Megan’s identity struggles in relation to her new environment and how she perceives herself.  She has had doubts about adjusting and how she will fit in.  While Megan may have previously come to terms with her disability the pressures she is facing in her new transition might cause her to retreat developmentally.  I felt as though she might struggle in her faith because of this.  Why me?  If there is a God why did he do this to me?  What did I do to deserve this?

These questions that Megan may be asking fit within Nash’s “Wounded Believers” narrative. As Nash  (2001) wrote, “The thematic thread that winds throughout all Wounded Belief narratives is this question: If there is a good, all-loving God, why has there been so much unbearable pain in my life?” (p. 22).  I wonder what long-term affect this transition will have on Megan’s spirituality and religious commitment.  If she is able to establish a more developmentally advanced identity where she is confident in herself and her relationships will she not view her disability as a hindrance?  If this were the case would she then return to the religious roots of her upbringing?  Or would she adopt a different narrative within Nash’s list? 

References

Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nash, R. J. (2001). Constructing a spirituality of teaching: A personal perspective. Religion and Education, 28(1), pp. 1-20.

Gilligan’s Model

In class we discussed Carol Gilligan’s Model of Women’s Moral Development, and I thought that it would be an interesting theory to apply to my voice. Gilligan (1993) wrote that women make their decisions and judgments based on their relationships and how they impact others because women are able to tie “morality to awareness of connection, defining the moral person as one who, in acting, seriously considers the consequences to everyone involved” (p. 54).  The question that this raised for me was whether or not Megan had reached this level of morality and how, if at all, her disability has affected her moral development.

In my opinion, Megan is not yet at an advanced level in relation to Gilligan’s Model.  The central question in relation to this model is how Megan is making her decisions, and in her transition into college she is struggling with many things relating to her self.  She is concerned with her adjustment, making friends, establishing her identity, and being happy in her new environment.  I imagine that she is making decisions in her transition that most benefit her directly and make her adjustment easier.  She appears to be a classical example of Gilligan’s First Level, Orientation to Individual Survival.  She is in a “me” stage where she is making decisions that fit within her own desires and needs.  Because of her disability she might sometimes think of herself as powerless and do what she can to rectify that.  She is feeling the sanctions imposed upon her by society and is looking out mainly for her own needs.

As Megan begins to adjust to college life and start establishing her identity separate from her disability and developing better relationships she will have an enhanced image of herself.  She will begin to form connections and attachments with others and consider them within her decision making process.  When this happens, she will move into the first transition and will begin to develop a more advanced process for moral reasoning.

Gilligan, C. (1993). In a different voice psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Today I saw this video about Kevin Laue who is a freshman like me, at Manhattan University.  Much like me, Kevin was born with a physical disability; he was born with only one arm.  The amazing thing about Kevin is that he is also on a full athletic scholarship for basketball.  Obviously, I will never be a division 1 basketball player, but I found his story inspiring.  I’m struggling with missing my family, making friends, and generally hoping people will accept me.  Kevin has thrown all caution to the wind and is doing what he loves.  I hope to find that kind of passion here at school.  I can see that I should be focused on what I want to accomplish, not what I am afraid might be out of reach because of my disability.  If I want to be treated like everyone else I need to act like it.  Now where can I sign up for intramurals?!

William Perry

Throughout class today I caught myself wondering how Megan would proceed through Perry’s Theory of Ethical and Moral Development.  A large part of the theory deals with reasoning.  Perry’s nine positions essentially trace the development of how a student processes information, makes choices based on that information, and from these choices forms their own identity and views of the world.  People are dualistic, multiplistic or relativistic.  I imagine that Megan would have gone to college still in the Dualism positions.  Her parents were her main source of support, care, and protection and she probably viewed them as her Authority.  While this is the case for many high school students, I can see it being even truer for Megan.  It is possible that her parents were very protective or that she relied on them heavily because of her disability.

When Megan first went away to school this may have been the first opportunity for her to experience multiplicity.  In her new environment she is being encouraged to be more independent and to not let her disability define her.  She is experiencing uncertainties and realizing that there is more than one way to look at the world.  She is becoming more independent and establishing her identity, but I don’t imagine it being a clean break.  As I have written before Megan has been struggling with her confidence and independence and still looks to that Authority to define herself and reinforce her decisions or “Truth.”  I imagine that there are areas in which she is confident and sure of herself and her ability to formulate her own truth separate from authority, but she has not fully adopted relativistic thinking.

I think that Megan’s disability will assist her in establishing her own ethical and intellectual identity.  In a way she has experienced the extremes early on.  I’m sure at some point she has been told that she cannot do something, or it just wasn’t possible.  In college she is realizing that this isn’t the case.  Her freedom in her new environment may easily translate into a freedom of thought, expression, and decision-making; freedoms that can help her realize the advanced relativistic thinking.

Privilege Walk

Recently in class we did an exercise called a “Privilege Walk” in which we assigned points to different statements in order to determine how well off we and our voices were.  The activity showed me many things.  First, it reinforced how privileged I am in relation to my voice.  I was awarded a point for just about every positive thing on the sheet and rarely subtracted points from my score.  In a way I felt guilty.  I felt as though I had no right to even write about hardships because I haven’t really experienced any.

I also was able to see clearly some of the advantages that Megan has.  Unfortunately, the activity didn’t do much to account for her physical disability, but it did show that there are many areas of her life in which she is privileged.  Her parents are educated and her family is well off.  They have the means to support her and can afford the treatment she requires because of her disability.  She is not of a race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion that has been historically been discriminated against.  Is Megan’s life easy?  No, she has a disability that will impact every aspect of her daily life.  However, she is also blessed with many privileges that should not be taken for granted or left out when discussing her development.

A third thing that this lesson taught was that there is still a lot I don’t know about Megan.  There were many statements on the Privilege Walk sheet that I put question marks next to.  What were her parents like?  What did she do in her free time? What kind of ancestry does she have?  From her family to her own personality, there is so much I haven’t considered when writing about Megan.  These things might not be the most obvious points, but they certainly will affect who she is and how she approaches things, and in turn will impact her development.  Going forward I will need to make more of an effort to consider all of Megan.

Schlossberg

Today in class we discussed Schlossberg’s Transition Theory and how it might relate to our voice.  I can imagine dealing with a number of transition factors during her collegiate experience.  I imagine college will be a liberating experience for her.  As I learned from speaking with Dan the other day, college can represent the first time that a student with a disability is entirely on their own.  This newfound independence could be an anticipated or unanticipated event for Megan depending on how she expected her experience to be.  However, the transition should have a huge impact on her life, as she will be in a different setting, forming new relationships, and experiencing a changing routine.

I imagine that the four S’s would come into play as Megan negotiates the transition.  The Situation is completely new for Megan.  She will be away intermittently from home off and on for four years as she develops as a young adult.  While trying to avoid my bias, I imagine that she will be more independent in this new place as she is away from her parents.  Her image of Self will also change. While her disability may mean that she is not able bodied, Megan is has been privileged in many other ways.  Her psychological resources will continue to evolve as she develops.  Support is an area of uncertainty for me as I relate to Megan.  Much of what I have written thus far deals with how I think Megan may struggle forming quality relationships during her collegiate career.  She will have to overcome her fears and apprehension in order to form a support group at school.  At the same time she should make efforts to stay connected to her family.  The fourth “S” is strategy, or how Megan will understand and cope with her new situation.  I believe that Megan will have good coping mechanisms in place to adapt to her new setting.  She has had to deal with plenty of hardship thus far in her young life and I’d imagine that she would approach this new situation with an open mind.

Dan’s Experience

Today I spoke with a friend of mine who has Cerebral Palsy.  He was very interested in my project and was helpful in relating to me some of the things that Megan might be dealing with as a college student with a physical disability.  He recounted many of the things that I had expected, and have previously written about.  He had huge concerns about not just fitting in, but also fears that people would not see past his physical disability.  He repeatedly mentioned that he has always felt that when people meet him for the first time they acted as if his physical ailment also limited his mental capacity, which obviously is not the case.  This is not something that I had originally thought of.  Previously I had imagined what Megan’s experience would be like, but only superficially.  Hearing some of these fears from someone who has had a similar experience added a human element for me and made it seem much more real.  It also forced me to look at how I treat people with disabilities.  As an undergraduate I volunteered fairly extensively with service organizations that helped children and teens with disabilities.  I went out of my way to help and make sure that participants in the events I was at were happy and doing OK.  In retrospect maybe I went so far as to almost marginalize them by not giving them enough credit.  As Dan put it, “it’s not that I want to do everything for myself or don’t want to accept help, and I am grateful people offer it, it’s just that sometimes people baby me so much that I feel like I have to show them that I can do it.”

One thing that stood out in our conversation is that his collegiate experience was much more enjoyable, less stressful, and over all easier when he got comfortable with a group of people, was able to relax, and trust that his friends were there for him because they liked him, not because they saw him as a charity case.  When he formed those cohesive relationships it was about Dan as a person, not “Dan who has Cerebral Palsy.”  He did feel like he missed out on some experiences when it came to going out to bars and with girls, but he said it was more that he limited himself with these things because of his comfort level, not necessarily because of his disability.  However, he conceded that he thinks he would have had more confidence if he were able-bodied.   I imagine that Megan would be struggling with many of the same feelings.  Forming these relationships would be very important to her so that she too could get comfortable in a collegiate setting and be herself.  As Dan said, and I would imagine this being true for Megan as well, “even though I might not have been able to experience every single thing in the same way most people did in college, I still think my experience was better and more liberating.  My whole life I was restricted and limited by what other people thought I could do because of my disability.  College was the first time I was able to test my limits and be away from my parents to make my own decisions of what I was capable of.” 

The idea that Dan’s experience was improved when he formed lasting relationships fits in with a lot of the developmental research I have done in relation to Megan.  Developing these Mature Interpersonal Relationships as well as a Personal Identity through learning increased independence are advanced steps.  This progression that Megan may see, like Dan did, represent developmental progress for an individual who may have been previously sheltered because of her disability.

Today in class we discussed how Chickering’s Seven Vectors chart a 4+ year journey toward identity development.  Each Vector is charted according to what year of college it typically corresponds with and some of the Vectors are identified as occurring throughout the developmental progress (see photo above).
During the class discussion, I felt that this developmental chart was fairly accurate.  However, as we were encouraged to consider the Vectors from our Voice’s perspective I felt differently.  Frankly, different aspects of Megan’s identity will impact her development.  For example while many students may Develop Competence in their first year, I believe that Megan could potentially struggle with two of the three prongs.  Her disability may make it difficult for her to achieve the physical and manual aspects of this Vector and her own doubts about her abilities are likely to affect her interpersonal skills as I have noted in previous entries.  I believe that Megan will also struggle with Moving Through Autonomy Toward Interdependence (noted on the chart as Emotional and Instrumental Interdependence) and Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships (also noted as Tolerance).  While it may be my personal bias, I imagine that Megan has always been heavily reliant on others, not because she chooses to be, but because it has been a necessity given her disability.  As I have previously written, I think Megan will use college as a launching point to explore many of the things she has potentially missed out on.  However, this exploration will also introduce many new challenges and I think it will take Megan time to evaluate, comprehend, and adapt to her independence.
To play devil’s advocate, it is possible that Megan may exceed the developmental process outlined by Chickering.  She has had to deal with a significant disadvantage in her disability; more than many people experience in a lifetime.  In all likelihood, she has felt anger, anxiety, depression, sadness, confusion, desire, etc at a level that is unimaginable to many students her age.  If she came to grip with these emotions before attending school, she is likely to be ahead of this developmental curve.
While many of these changes continue throughout the developmental journey, Establishing Identity will without a doubt be a huge focal point of Megan’s development.  As we said in class, this Vector deals with “rejecting an identity given to someone and searching for a meaningful role.”  Megan does not want to be defined by her disability, as it is just one aspect of her identity.  Her desire to find herself and who she is will have an enormous impact on this developmental process.

Today in class we discussed how Chickering’s Seven Vectors chart a 4+ year journey toward identity development.  Each Vector is charted according to what year of college it typically corresponds with and some of the Vectors are identified as occurring throughout the developmental progress (see photo above).

During the class discussion, I felt that this developmental chart was fairly accurate.  However, as we were encouraged to consider the Vectors from our Voice’s perspective I felt differently.  Frankly, different aspects of Megan’s identity will impact her development.  For example while many students may Develop Competence in their first year, I believe that Megan could potentially struggle with two of the three prongs.  Her disability may make it difficult for her to achieve the physical and manual aspects of this Vector and her own doubts about her abilities are likely to affect her interpersonal skills as I have noted in previous entries.  I believe that Megan will also struggle with Moving Through Autonomy Toward Interdependence (noted on the chart as Emotional and Instrumental Interdependence) and Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships (also noted as Tolerance).  While it may be my personal bias, I imagine that Megan has always been heavily reliant on others, not because she chooses to be, but because it has been a necessity given her disability.  As I have previously written, I think Megan will use college as a launching point to explore many of the things she has potentially missed out on.  However, this exploration will also introduce many new challenges and I think it will take Megan time to evaluate, comprehend, and adapt to her independence.

To play devil’s advocate, it is possible that Megan may exceed the developmental process outlined by Chickering.  She has had to deal with a significant disadvantage in her disability; more than many people experience in a lifetime.  In all likelihood, she has felt anger, anxiety, depression, sadness, confusion, desire, etc at a level that is unimaginable to many students her age.  If she came to grip with these emotions before attending school, she is likely to be ahead of this developmental curve.

While many of these changes continue throughout the developmental journey, Establishing Identity will without a doubt be a huge focal point of Megan’s development.  As we said in class, this Vector deals with “rejecting an identity given to someone and searching for a meaningful role.”  Megan does not want to be defined by her disability, as it is just one aspect of her identity.  Her desire to find herself and who she is will have an enormous impact on this developmental process.

Multiple Identities

Reading about privilege and oppression in the student development text has raised some interesting points for me in relation to Megan.  Individuals can experience oppression or privilege for a variety of reasons, and often they have now knowledge of it.  The authors discuss the premise of ability privilege (Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A., 2010).  As Evans et al. (2010) point out the ability privilege puts those like Megan at a disadvantage in two ways; “The physical barriers that prevent people from accessing buildings, separate individuals in settings, fail to provide alternative methods of consuming information, and so on are situations that put people with disabilities at a disadvantage.  Attitudes of able-bodied people that discount the talents and skills of anyone with a disability are equally at fault” (p. 243).  Obviously as a student with a disability Megan is susceptible to oppression from those who may be more able-bodied.

Upon more careful analysis of the chapter, I became to realize that in spite of her disability, Megan has also been blessed with many privileges.  It is strange for me to think of Megan as privileged, but this is undoubtedly my own bias.  Megan is White, middle-class, heterosexual, and Christian.  All of these qualities have been identified as having societal privileges (Evans et al., 2010).  What would Megan’s experience be like if she hadn’t been born into this advantageous position?  What if Megan’s family had not been able to afford her medical care or the tuition to a school with the resources she required?  How would Megan be received on campus if she were of a different ethnicity or sexual orientation?  Would her experience be better if she was a man?

This also forces me to look at the advantages I have been blessed with.  I do not view myself as an oppressor, and consider myself to be very open and understanding of different backgrounds.  However, I have never stopped to really consider how my gender, family’s economic status, race, sexuality, or religion has given me a potential leg up over others.  It is a personal goal of mine to be more cognizant about this going forward.  I believe that this will not only help me with this project, but also throughout my career.

It is important for me to continue to see all of Megan, not just her disability.  As Evans et al. (2010) write, “the intersection of multiple identities is a socially constructed, contextual phenomenon enacted in everyday life that motivates action to create a more equitable society” (p. 244).  Seeing all of Megan’s identities will help me gain a greater understanding of who she is and will better enable me to empathize and analyze her experiences.

Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory research and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Going Greek

On my way home from Bowling Green last night I was talking about my internship with a friend of mine who has a similar position at another institution.  She was giving me a hard time because I will be working with Pan-Hellenic organizations on women’s recruitment when the school year starts up.  We were laughing because it is something very new and different for me, and I feel, will make me a little uncomfortable.  Later in the evening I began to think about what that experience would be like for Megan.

 Up until now I had not thought about how Megan would feel in a situation like sorority recruitment.  Having been a member of a Greek organization myself, I know that recruitment is a stressful time for anyone, let alone someone who is dealing with everything that Megan is.  I imagine that she will have doubts about herself.  Will people be so superficial that they can’t look past my chair?  Can I be pretty enough in my chair, woman enough for these girls?  Will they be able to treat me like everyone else?  These are just some of the questions I believe Megan would be flooded with internally.

It’s becoming evident to me now that while Megan’s disability does not define who she is as a person, it absolutely influences how she thinks, feels, and acts.  As she develops and gains confidence and autonomy this may very well change.  Megan deals with all of the insecurities that anyone in college may struggle with and her disability adds an extra dimension to this.  I believe that it is important for me to recognize this when speaking for Megan.  I feel as though I’ve previously tried to write about how great Megan can be despite her disability, but I think that in reality she will excel in spite of her disability and because of the growth she’s achieved by coming to terms with it and who she is.

Josselson

This will be my initial first-person entry using Megan’s voice.  Whenever I am speaking as Megan going forward, the text will be italicized.

Today in class we learned about Josselson’s Theory in which she explored Marcia’s four identity statuses specifically applied to women.  I found this interesting, because I it really applies to me.  I think people often look at me and they see a person in a wheel chair, but nothing else.  I am also a woman and I struggle with the same things all the other girls in my class do.  If anything I think these problems are different in nature because of my disability, not absent all together.

During the lecture I immediately identified with the Searcher Identity, which is associated with the Moratorium status of exploration with no commitment.  When I was in high school I lived at home with my parents and my mother was very protective.  I understand why she was, and I appreciate that she cares, but now that I am in school and living in the residence hall, I realize how sheltered I was.  I was struck by some of the phrasing from the text that seemed like it was speaking to me.  “Women on this pathway indicated that they had over protective mothers…” With my new found independence I am desperate not to be identified by my disability.  I want to have fun like the other students, get involved, and meet boys.  I don’t see why I can’t join a sorority, study abroad, and have fun on the weekends.  If I am successful in college, I feel as though I can do anything afterwards.  The textbook we read might identify this as “having daydreams of doing wonderful things” but I see it as finally establishing some confidence!  The lecture in class did show me that I need to work hard to become more comfortable with my relationships, what I can do, and myself in general.  Women who remain in Moratorium after college deal with uncertainty and a lot of other unstable emotions.  I feel that since I am aware of my emotions I can work hard to establish myself in college and form meaningful, lasting relationships.  I desperately want to have a normal college experience.  I will not be defined by my disability!

Equality Is Still A Goal

Some of my recent work in the CSP 6010 class has enabled me to examine recent articles examining accessibility for the disabled in higher education.  The first of which deals with a lawsuit involving McNeese State University.  A female student in a wheel chair, not unlike Megan was injured as she tried to exit a restroom in the student union (Stripling, 2008).  The president of the school went on to say that access to the student union was not a high priority for disabled students and that the academic buildings took a priority over other services.  As Stripling (2008) asserts, McNeese President Robert Hebert is also acknowledging that the school is not in 100% compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990.

The second article I read dealt with students with disabilities who wanted to study abroad.  As Roberts (2008) notes, only 2.6% of students who studied abroad in 2006 reported having a disability.  The author (2008) attributes this to two things.  The first is that these programs aren’t made readily available to students with disabilities.  For example, very few schools have study abroad related literature in the disability service office.  Another reason for the lack of students with a disability participating in study abroad is a lack of self-esteem.  As Angela Winfield, a blind lawyer in NY, said to Roberts (2008), “A lot of students had so much trouble getting simple accommodations at their local high schools, they think, ‘If I have this much trouble here, how am I going to go abroad?’”  However, it is also important to remember that the current generations of traditional-aged college students represent one of the first that will have had the ADA in place for their entire lifetime. 

I believe these two articles address an important developmental issue for Megan.  If she does not have access to the same experiences as her peers she stands a chance at being stunted developmentally.  Chickering and Reisser (1993) identified “Moving Through Autonomy Toward Independence” and “Establishing Identity” as two vectors of development.  If Megan has limited access to basic campus resources such as a student union or to more worldly experiences such as studying abroad it could limit her independence, a crucial point in the autonomy vector.  Also, if she is made to believe that she is not capable of doing something like studying abroad it could impact her self-worth and prevent her from establishing her own identity.  The institutional objective is one of the key influences outlined by Chickering and Reisser (1993), and the institution has a responsibility to have a consistent policy that will result in a positive developmental outcome for all students.

Megan’s disability should not have to result in developmental disadvantages.  These two articles show that even with recent legislation like the ADA of 1990, equality is still more of a goal than a reality.  It is essential that we close this gap for students like Megan as these institutional resources are an essential component of the developmental process.

Resources

Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Roberts, L. (2009). Have wheelchair, will travel: Disabled students study abroad, too. Chronicle of Higher Education56(8), B18-B20.

Stripling, J. (2008, August 6). Access denied. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved June 18, 2010, from http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/08/06/mcneese